The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated companies to double down on employee experience and wellbeing, and to understand how those things directly tie to productivity and retention rates. Employee benefits have a critical role: A 2021 survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services showed that 80% of executives believe it’s important that employees engage with and take full advantage of their benefits.
They cited a multitude of reasons why, with employee welfare high among them. When asked to identify the most valuable outcomes from strong employee engagement with benefits, 71% cited healthier employees, 52% cited improved employee retention, and 42% cited lower healthcare costs overall. This trend underscores how critical it is to provide the right balance of tools, perks, and benefits to ensure employees are productive, engaged, and happy, because employee experience and wellbeing directly correlate to a company’s bottom line.
Andrew Dubowec, chief growth officer at League, and Cristina Goldt, general manager, talent optimization at Workday, recently led a customer roundtable to talk about how the pandemic has dramatically upleveled the importance of employee experience, all the way up to the C-suite. League is a Workday Ventures’ portfolio company—and its health operating system integrates with Workday Human Capital Management to increase efficiency and accuracy of employee benefit enrollment. Below is an excerpt of my follow-up conversation with Andrew and Cristina.
What connection do you see among employee experience, wellbeing, and digital transformation?
Andrew Dubowec: What we’ve seen across the market is an elevation and intersection of organizational priorities. Digital transformation, the employee experience, and employee health and wellbeing are now all critical company priorities, and they should be tightly integrated.
When it comes to employee healthcare, organizations have traditionally focused on the specific programs they offer (such as mental health support, fertility, diabetes management, etc.), but now there’s a more thoughtful approach to how these programs are delivered. We can leverage technology to create a “digital front door” for employees and eliminate the friction and frustration they face when trying to access, navigate, and pay for care. Having a single, personalized point of access can greatly reduce the burden on employees when trying to access the programs they need.
While human resources has been at the forefront of this intersection, how did the pandemic change the perception of employee experience for the C-suite?
Cristina Goldt: The pandemic forced the C-suite to think about how employee wellbeing directly correlates to not only employee productivity but also company retention rates. From a cost perspective, companies spend a lot of effort, money, and other resources trying to figure out the best programs to offer employees. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily get the optimal return for those investments because employees may not know what programs are available or how to find them.
Using artificial intelligence and other technologies to deliver the right programs to the right people has been a game-changer in a distributed work environment, but it won’t stop even as people return to the office. Employers that consider the spectrum of wellbeing tend to see better retention and productivity outcomes for their organizations. As a result, CEOs are hiring chief wellbeing officers or empowering a wellness group to support productivity and financial goals.
“Digital transformation, the employee experience, and employee health and wellbeing are now all critical company priorities, and they should be tightly integrated. “Andrew Dubowec Chief Growth Officer League
How can companies leverage technology to reach their employees and meet them where they are?
Dubowec: Historically, delivering a personalized healthcare experience and managing costs were competing priorities. Thanks to advancements in technology and data, they can now go hand-in-hand. Innovations in user experience design combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning can help companies provide frictionless and personalized employee experiences at scale.
Goldt: With hybrid and remote work, you need to be able to reach employees easily with the proper tools for them to do their jobs effectively, but also with platforms where employees can easily access programs and benefits that support their wellbeing.
By securely leveraging employee data, you can do a better job of serving up the programs that will support an individual employee the most. For example, a younger employee who may have college debt may be interested in different perks and programs than an employee who is a caretaker of a child or elderly parent. If you can personalize the experience for the employee by simply using a smarter algorithm with employee data, you get them what they need faster and more cost-effectively.
Why is having a consolidated system for health and wellbeing benefits more efficient?
Dubowec: Human resource practitioners found themselves in a situation where they were offering hundreds of programs to meet the needs of employees. They simply couldn’t keep up with the program details, paperwork, and administration of so many different programs, and found that a one-size-fits-all approach does not support the diverse needs of staff.
With a consolidated health operating system and benefits platform, human resource practitioners can streamline and automate program administration and offer a self-service model for employees, which lets HR focus on higher-value activities.
How do you track and measure the impact and utilization of employee programs?
Goldt: Leveraging technology and machine learning helps companies deliver the right programs to relevant employees. Technology also lets you quickly evaluate which programs are more essential or popular. In doing so, companies can reduce costs by streamlining the number of providers or programs and have greater visibility into employee utilization. This is an important consideration for HR teams as well as the CFO.
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Workday Ventures is proud to partner with innovative companies like League that put employee experience at the heart of their offerings. Benefits and wellbeing are an imperative for our customers because employees are the fundamental growth engine for their success. Even after the pandemic subsides, that won’t change the reality that employee health and wellbeing are intrinsically tied to employee retention, productivity, and growth. And this connection matters not only to human resources, but to everyone.